Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,668 Reviews
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

For Trade:
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Reviews: 3,668 | Ratings: 14,281
Photo of WickedSluggy
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Avon Liquors in Avon, CO had a great selection of beers including two from Russian River (Blind Pig was the other.) I was pleasantly surprised to find these there.

Before opening, I let the beer warm maybe 15 minutes out of the stores cooler temperature.(fresh dated 12/5/08 opened 1/23/09)

A - Amber orange with plenty of pale colored dense foam.

S - The Citrusy bouquet was almost like an appetizing perfume on a beautiful girl that makes your mouth water. Very nice. Got to have her right here on the steps of the Comfort Inn.

T - She didn't only look good and smell sweet; the consummation of the act was just what I hoped it would be. While the base of this beer is perfect, the perfection of the malt base is like what a good piece of bread is when you want to feature the jam. And the jam is the hops. To date, I have not experienced a hops flavor that surpasses this one. It was just what the bouquet had suggested. Flavor hops was extraordinary -fruity, grapefruity, piney.

M - You do not want to drink after me when I let the beer flow into my mouth like this. I am disgusting. I swam in this one like I do when I drink a good barleywine. It is not that big of a beer, but it is very well put-together.

D - Pure pleasure.

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Photo of bitterthebetter
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a rich, inviting cloudy copper orange with lacy white head

grassy, floral, fresh, piney, lemony

upfront with the fresh, floral hops, chunky almost, with solid pine and lemony notes following, with dry, more pine on the finish

pretty light bodied in the mouth, but packs a solid wallop of hops with all the goodies layered in there. finish is long, semi dry, and slightly sweet

super smooth, tasty, hoppy, delicious ale. a bunch of flavor going on and lots of hoppiness to enjoy

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Photo of ajr24
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I hunted down this beer a few times this past Fall when it finally came to Philly. I thank this website plus its users for all the inside scoops!

A- Pours a sparkling and hazy orange with a creamy and strong white head. Held up to the light or stuck in a dark cellar this beer still holds a delicious appearance.

S- Woo! A lot going on in the nose of this one, and that ain't a bad thing. Not really many overpowering aromas present in some DIPAs but citrus-orange would be the most prevalent. Underneath all of those west coast hops you can find its delicate malt profile. It's amazing how well the aggressive hoppiness complements the fragile maltiness in this beer.

T- DEFINITELY from Cali! The onset of this beer is a hop-punch followed by a soothing malt backbone- when I paid attention I found some caramel, wafer type flavor. Its hop character is powerful but harmonious- like I said, not overwhelming.

M- Pretty explosive but eventually settles down. The hops bounce around with the carbonation and it's pretty exciting. This beer has an energy that you can feel.

D- Like most good DIPAs I rate the drinkability quite high and the same goes for this one. Its high ABV isn't exactly a force to be reckoned with.

Overall this beer was a treat. I'm happy that I finally tracked it down. NEED MORE!

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Photo of freeeekyyy
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Medium amber. Some carbonation. An attractive beer.

S - Smells of citrusy hops. Very inviting.

T - Piney, resiny hops. Maybe cascade or centennial?

M - Thick, but not too thick. Between a normal IPA and a stout.

D - Very drinkable. High in alcohol, but you don't notice it at all. I could easily put down 3 of these and be ready for more.

All in all, a very worthy, delicious beer and a fine example of a proper Double IPA. East-coasters think DFH 120 is what a DIPA is supposed to taste like, but they have no clue what they're talking about. If you like beer, you'll like Pliny the Elder.

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Photo of kasper
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a translucent golden yellow with single finger, ginger-colored, tight creamy and bubbly off-white head. Nice sticky lacing all over the glass.

S: Strong aromas of sweet citrus and floral hops. Individual aromas of tangerine & pink grapefruit. Lots of underlying bready malts -- extremely inviting aroma.

T: Sweet fruity malts followed by a light bitterness pop. From the smell, you think you're are gonna get slammed with hops. But Pliny is one of the most composed and balanced DIPA's I've ever tasted.

M. "Wow factor" -- real luscious. Coats the palette nicely -- real smooth like a baby's bottom. Best part of the beer right here. Everything melds well.

D: One of the most balanced brews yet. Alcohol not very noticeable. Could be a candidate for a session-able DIPA.

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Photo of boralyl
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours 2 fingers of creamy white head. It's retention is good and leaves some nice some spider lacing and thick ring when it settles. The beer is a slightly hazy, dark, golden-orange.

S - Lots of piny hops on the nose mixed in with orange and citrus. The pine is more prevalent when first poured. As it warms the citrus aromas take the front seat.

M - Medium in body with a fairly smooth, somewhat creamy feel to it, despite the hops oil.

T - This has some complex flavors going on, for sure. Some floral hops followed by some bready malts. This is followed up by citrus, orange, lemon and a grapefruit finish that's only slightly bitter. This increases the beers drink-ability dramatically. The alcohol is practically non-existent in the taste.

This is by far one of the most drinkable DIPA's I've ever tasted. If I lived in an area where this was readily available, this would always be in my fridge.

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Photo of joepais
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Revisited this one thanks to the bottle thethrone sent me. This bottle is much better than the growler I received. Clear hazy copper body some small sediment floating in it. Big white head much lace ensues after it goes

Aromas' of big pine and citrus filled the air and my head. Flavors are extremely hoppy and the mouthfeel is nice and oily. Yes I like this beer it is an Incredible DIPA.

Drinkability is off the charts. I am glad they started to bottle this; I will defiantly search this one out again.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to JWD for this bottle.

Poured from the bottle a hazy orange-apricot color with a thin, but large-bubbled, white head.

Big juicy aroma of grapefruit and pine hops along with pineapple and a hint of caramel.

The taste is so much like the aroma. Big juicy grapefruit, pine, and pineapple. Finishes clean with a hint of grapefruit remaining. The 8% alcohol is well hidden.

Medium bodied, clean and bright, with a sharp carbonation.

Hops, hops, and more hops...and I love it. So drinkable it's frightening. As great as expected and a must try.

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Photo of jstilwell
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

ahh, my first Pliny! Enormous thanks to djeucalyptus for hooking me up! Ever since I joined the site, I've been dying to try this. I just knew I would love this, and I was...right!
There's not much to say that hasn't been said, but this review is as much for myself to look back on as this sets the standard for the style.

A: Standard hazy orangy looking IPA, nice 1" white head, looks just like I pictured it would.

S: Here we go people, Pungent aroma of flowery hops. I detect a citrusy scent of grapefruit, orangy lemon zest, and pine and hops again.

T: First blissful taste impression...this is complex. Nice spiciness, flowery hops, someone locked me in a greenhouse and I need to eat my way out! The finish is CRISP, not bitter, the aftertaste is mildly bitter and the alcohol warmness kicks in. AS with any quality brew, mouth swishing sets of a chain reaction of complexities. This is wonderful.

M: Oily, clings to the palate, substantive, wonderful!

D: Oh yeah, I could drink these, but well no I can't because I live in the Northeast, so I'll need to pop one at a time, and wait for my next trade.

This is the IPA from which all should be measured (for me). Did I say Crisp? Damn! The hops are obviously prominent but the typical overt bitterness is squashed by the proper amount of malt. A hophead's delight for sure, and a damn near perfect brew. Hope to get it on tap some day!

You the man, DJ! and Russian River should get some credit as well

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this many times and finally getting around to reviewing this gem. 15oz pour into a stemmed glass at Union Jacks Pub.

A- RR Pliny The Elder has a very pronounced orange, slighty amber color to it, a shade darker than the Blind Pig. Also no hazyness to this as it's quite clear. A nice 1/2 inch off white head showed itself then took an exit. Not much lacing going on here.

S- A good heap of piney hops up front and a bunch of grapefruit and floral qualities which was expected. Some pineapple and earthy tones. Like with all Russian River offerings, I smelled this for at least 10 minutes before indulging, it's just that good.

T- California GOODNESS. Pliny comes off with the expected citrus hop flavor with a minimal amount of caramel malt sweetness to get in the way. This is not a hop-bomb in my eyes, more like a very nicely balanced DIPA. A sort of grainy, bready feel towards the middle. A bit of bitterness, nothing overbearing. Had this in a bottle also and I think tap is the way to go.

M- Sure, the hops attack the palette, but in a good way, not killing off any taste senses, but i'm sure that would happen after a few. Medium mouthfeel and slick body and much smoother than the blind pig. I never say this but the alcohol was hidden tremendously. A double IPA that drinks like an IPA. Quite a feat.

D- Smooth sailing for the drinkability as pliny does not attack the tounge leaving it's mark forever. The malts used to offset the hops are used perfectly where other "Hopbombs" lack in this area. Balance is key, and Pliny provides that. I would and have the ability to seek this out on draft when it's available in my area and i'm very grateful.

Cant wait for pliny's younger brother to show up at Philly beer week 09.

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Photo of dhansen68
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Exceptional beer. Very citrus hoppy aroma. Citrus piny hop flavor with a well ballanced malt sweetness. After hearing afterl the hype, the flavor caught me off guard on the first sip. Way more low cohum. hops. Not a strong bitter after bite. As the sipping went on, the last swallow begged for more. Absolutely exceptional.

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Photo of tadowdaddy
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Very clear orange color with minimal head. Lacing is very splotchy on the sides of my tulip.

S- Amazing citrus hops and pine hops. A tad bit of a floral hop can be smelled as well.

T- Amazing. No alcohol tasted at all. Huge amounts of pine, a tart grapefruit, and a tad bit of lemon. No malt backbone at all. Very unbalanced but tremendously delicious hop treat.

M- Oily and thin. Coats the mouth well and leaves a lingering aftertaste of bitterness.

D- Goes down very easy and I could see myself having a few of these. Wish I could drink it on a regular basis. Thanks a bunch torchednoodle for the fantastic trade!

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Photo of jjazz
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head retention could be much better.

Pine, citrus (tangerine; not grapefruit), pineapple...wonderful aroma and flavor. Lots of peppery spice.

Relatively gentle bitterness for 100 IBUs.

Enough malt to balance the hops, but not enough to get in their way. Body is light; just like it should be. This is one drinkable DIPA.

Very good, but nothing transcendent. I really wish this had wider distribution. I would be buying it often.

This bottle was from a trade shipment with 2/4 bottles broken, apparently due to freezing. This beer was previously frozen.

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Photo of DoesntMatter46
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is very clear, not cloudy at all. I'd say its a pale copper color, nice layer of white head when I poured the half liter bottle in to my half liter Mousel Luxembourg beer stein.

Smell is very floral, very hoppy and very noticeable as soon as I started pouring it an arms length away. A slew of hops must have been added right at the end, as they show up much more as aroma than as bitterness.

Taste is obviously based on the hops. It's very piney and spicey. There's no strong alcohol taste, and the malt doesn't give much body, this beer is all about the hops. Overall, not too bitter, and for its style, well balanced.

I could easily sit and drink a few of these, but with so many West Coast IPAs, this beer is not the be- all, end- all, holy grail some have talked it up to be. Is it on my short list of best beer I've ever had? Yes, but it won't keep me from trying a different IPA next time I want one.

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Photo of InsolublePancake
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 11/4/08. Purchased online from South Bay Drugs.

A- Light gold with hints of orange; quite light for the style. Pours with a nice, fluffy head and leaves quite a bit of lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- Mainly citrusy hops with a nice sweet orange juice aroma. There are some big floral and pine notes, too. Really a superb DIPA smell.

T- Starts out with a touch of sweetness before the hops take over. Citrus rind and pine are the main flavors here. A cracker-like malt balances the hops out just enough so that they don't get out of control. Finishes dry with a strong but not overwhelming bitterness. Very nice.

M- Nice medium body with a good carbonation level: not too high, not too low.

D- Very good for a DIPA. It doesn't have the extremely high alcohol and cloying sweetness that hinder some examples of the style. I could easily have a couple (or more) of these.

This is a great beer, although it's not transcendent. I can see why people might be disappointed when they were led to believe that they would reach Nirvana upon tasting it. I try to ignore the hype surrounding a beer and rate it based solely on my tastes and how I think it compares to other similar beers (the key word here being "try"). To me this simply ranks as an outstanding beer worthy of a great deal of praise. Is it the best DIPA ever? Well, not in my opinion, but it's certainly one of the best I've had, and I highly recommend it to others.

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Photo of treehugger02010
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on-tap at Gullifty's Restaurant in Rosemont, PA and it came in a Tulip glass.
Appearance: The body is a clear amber color with a medium sized (thick) egg-shell colored head that has excellent lacing and good retention.
Smell: The aroma is very American IPA with high amounts of grapefruit and pine.
Taste: The flavors are similar to the aroma, but with a nutty twist added in.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is very crisp and refreshing.
Drinkability: This is a highly rated beer for a reason. I have been out of touch with American IPAs for some time now, and this one reminded me of what I was missing.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of pkasten
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - light amber, a little on the golden side

s - big, floral, piney hop character... woah, like a fistful of amarillo beating you mercilessly

t - very hoppy, but nicely balanced. hop flavor hangs around forever in the finish, but as long as you keep drinking, this won't be a problem

m - nice medium body/carbonation

d - excellent. considering the abv and ibu, it's surprisingly easy to knock back a few of these.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My wife brought 10 bottles of this back to DC from Colorado while she was there. They were waiting for me when I got back from the Middle East. :)

A: A Beautiful clean amber color. I'd stare it longer if it didn't make me so thirsty.

S: Smells beautiful with grandiose aromas of floral and citrus.

T: Fresh delicious hoppy IPA goodness. Wonderful bitterness and fresh hops. This is truly a special beer.

M: Silky smooth, especially for a double IPA. 8% isn't terribly high ABV, but it is completely masked nonetheless. A beautiful hop bitterness in the finish.

D: I could easily drink several of these. I thoroughly enjoy Pliny the Elder, and it remains one of my favorite beers of all time.

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Photo of radshoesbro
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this is an incredible beer which i've had a few times before, but never had the chance to review.

pours a beautiful amber with nice carbonation and perfect head retention! smells like beautiful floral hops and tastes the same, but without an overpowering taste. this is a near perfectly balanced beer as it goes down much lighter than it begins.

if there is such a thing as a perfect beer this is damn close to it!

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Photo of mattloaf1
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I made a special trip down to Brooklyn to try this legendary beer. As of 1/17, they have this (and Blind Pig) available at Pacific Standard, which is a good bar.

Appearance is a nice, golden orange. It smells like a solid IPA. It tastes like a very nice, drinkable IPA with copious west coast hops.

It's a very good IPA, but for me, it didn't live up to the hype that proceeded it. If you want hops, go for Green Flash's IPA. If you want a well-rounded IPA, Pliny will do the job, but don't expect something mindblowing. It's just a perfectly-balanced, sessionable IPA.

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Photo of antilogic
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've had Pliny dozens of time, but this is my first chance to sit down and review it. Bottle dated 11/26/08.

Golden with a slight orange tint. Head is white and bubbly and fades quickly with some lacing on my glass. The aroma is citrus, grapefruit, hops, pine, floral hops. Extremely drinkable, slightly dry, crisp, finish, lighter in body than I would have initially expected. Delicious. I will regularly keep my fridge stocked with a few of these...

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Photo of walshclimb
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cool simple-looking label with warnings against aging and a bottled-on date of 7/30/08. So, this is getting a little old at 5.5 months, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I only bought it a few weeks ago. I will look for a younger bottle next time.

Pours slightly hazy honey colored with thick bubbly head after a somewhat aggressive pour. Large bubbles clung to the glass, bridging to the diminishing head that thinned but stayed around to the last sip. Very nice warm floral hop aroma. Nicely balanced initial flavor with bitter hops and malt transitioning to a slowly evolving sweet malt and floral/bitter hop aftertaste that seemed to have a peak sweetness in the middle and a long bitter aftertaste that sits on top of the tongue. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, moderately carbonated, somwhere near the line between syruppy and crisp. Very nice. OVerall, this is a very tasty beer that is I agree is highly recommended if you can find it.

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Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Served cool from a pint bottle at about 36F into a Boston Lager glass.

Pours with medium thick body and a nice heavy off white head about 1" high.

Color is light amber, leaning towards golden, with no haze.

Aroma is very hoppy, citrusy, sweet. Notable level of diacetyl not present in a growler I had previously.

Taste is very well balanced between hops, malt and alcohol. Lots of residual malts making it sweet, but not too much.

Mouthfeel is moderate thickness for the style, slick, with a hint of alcohol warmth.

As it warms in the glass, it perfectly maintains its balance.

Overall a really drinkable beer, but it loses something in the bottle vs a growler.

Edit 2015: Vinny has finally fixed the bottled version problems. I still like it on draft best followed by growler followed by bottle.

Edited on 3/3/14: Tweaking my earlier review(s) which were based on what in hindsight were old/abused bottles. Zero defects, no DMS, no diacetyl, just a fabulous beer.

Edited on 1/4/12: Just had another Pliny in the bottle. No diacetyl this time, instead DMS. Nose had no hops, just cooked corn. Still good hop flavor and overall balance.

Original review: Brewed on 12/7/11, less than 30 days ago. WTF? RR should give up bottling PtE, since PtE on tap is tied for best beer I've ever had, and in the bottle it's dependably junk. Maybe they should CAN it instead?

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Believe the Hype. Had the privilege of consuming this brew on a few occasions- most recently thanks to the generosity of great traders like MiScusi and swnicholson.

I've had this everywhere from one month old to about three. It certainly deteriorates faster than Blind Pig for some reason, but upon opening even a 3 month old bottle, the aroma is mesmerizing.

Most Recently, 500mL bottle (11/10/08) into a Bruery-Branded Tulip yields a gorgeous light colored-yellow/amber brew with an inch of ivory head. I can almost smell it from across the room!

Tons of piney, citrusy hops fill the nostrils. I have never had anything else smell like this before. Fresh cut grapefruit and golden pineapple, with some grassy notes.

To me, in the taste is where it isn't a Double IPA. The 8% abv is borderline- tons of single IPAs are 7% and most doubles are over 9%. Regardless, its all a matter of definition- who cares it's a delicious beer! Just as the nose would suggest, the flavors play through with a wonderful caramel malt presence that doesn't get in the way of the hop flavors, but is still the slightest bit noticeable. Aggressively fruity from citrus to peach to pineapple, with a certain stickiness that is akin to an herbal grassy flavor. Plenty bitter, but such great hop flavor that it becomes negligible.

The alcohol is so well hidden, you would never believe it clocks in at a solid 8%, very very drinkable although you wouldn't want to drink more than one or two, as it surely does a number on your palate. Every time I get one of these in a trade I have to savor it though its hard with such a great drinkability. Now I need to get my hands on some of the Younger.

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Photo of Brewsmith
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From a 0.5L bottle purchased at Hi Times Cellars in Costa Mesa.

Aroma is thick with hop oils, musky, like I stuck my head in a bag of Cascade or Centennial.

Golden yellow with a fluffy off-white head. Fairly clear.

Flavor is again bursting with hops, orangey pine. Amazingly the malt still balances and t is not over the top.

Clean and dry with some lingering bitterness that is quite refreshing. Not over carbonated. Just about the best Double IPA I have ever had.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,281 ratings.
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